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The minute after I had slit open the long thin pale blue envelope, I knew I was addicted again. This time he had sent a photo with his letter. In the photo he wore a Edgar Allen Poe tee shirt, and over that what I imagined must be some kind of traditional Indonesian jacket with woven bands of pattern down the front. He was smiling right into the camera so hard that his eyes had transformed themselves into two tiny slits, like the darkened edge of a dried anise petal.
But the disappearing eyes only made his smile more apparent. Nice teeth. Most of all I felt attracted to the hair. It was black and glossy and fell down past his shoulders almost to his waist. He had more beautiful hair than half the women I knew.
I thought about the hair, I imagined running my hands through it, smelling it, brushing it, even washing it. At the bottom he had signed the photo: All my love, Yudi.
I remembered climbing a hill with my friend, Jyoti, one day in Auckland. We were climbing this hill half the morning and I was carrying wine and cheese and a loaf of French bread in a bag over my shoulder and the bag kept hitting my leg and hip the whole way up. So, to take my mind off this irritating bag of wine and cheese and bread, I had begun to talk.
I had said that it didn't matter what you thought or tried to make out to yourself that you were doing, that it didn't matter what you cajoled yourself into believing or what you convinced others to believe, it was all only down to one thing. It was all only down to one important point, and that was who was fucking who, who wanted to fuck who, and who was fantasizing about having it off with who. And I told Jyoti that as far as I could see everything turned slowly, grinding around that central core. Around that core all else followed, and that central core existed alone, before anything else.
'Are you talking about love?' Jyoti had said. And then we'd reached the top and discovered we'd forgotten the corkscrew. I told Jyoti, 'Love is only a reflection of how you see yourself, of how you want yourself to be perceived.'